Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's All Just Too Much: A Moment of Enlightenment

Bear with me as I make my way through a jumble of messiness. First order of business. The faux-fish have been named! I kept playing around with the suggestions but one fit so perfectly and I just kept coming back to it. So thank you JACKIE for naming my magnetic friends- Bert and Ernie!! The blue and yellow one is Bert, the red and orange one is Ernie. Second order of business. I want to give you people GIFTS. So far, Mim is in for our international spot. And our domestic participants are Alix, Isabella, and maybe Amy... so if you want something from me... better click over to that post and sign up. 1 North American opportunity is still there... maybe 2 (Amy- you out there?). To be honest, if you don't really want to do the same deal on your blog, it's fine with me. Maybe you don't have a blog. But if you are one of my loyal readers... I'd sure like a chance to reach out to you! Third order of business. Sometimes work is majorly stressful and SUCKS. And other people are stressed and making BAD choices and it is causing ME stress and I am SO OVER IT! Fourth order of business. Busy-ness can be a good thing. But in small amounts. My Teagan is showing signs that we've pushed too hard, too fast. Too much going on. Between turning 4, joining choir, singing in church with the choir, going to Sleeping Beauty's Ball at the Children's Museum, hearing about us visiting schools, going to visit a school, having friends in from out of town and doing dance class, museum, swimming, eating out, friends over to play, riding a bike... it's TOO MUCH. Turning 4 isn't a magical switch that changes everything. So we are slowing waaaaaaay down and getting back to basics, back to being at home, back to just having fun and chilling out. Gotta cut back on all the running around. So no choir this week. And it's an off week next week because of Holy Week. There will still be some weekend excitement- Jeff is out of town this weekend, the next weekend is Easter. But we are going to focus on staying home. And will add choir back in, hopefully, after Easter. Once our evenings have quieted again. And we are back to smooth bedtimes, good choices, eased off on the whining... and back to feelin' groovy!
Slow down
You move to fast
You've got to make
The morning last
Kickin' down
the cobblestones
Lookin' for fun and
Feeling' groovy!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Be Back Soon...

Our days have been WAY over busy lately. And it is starting to show in Teagan's behavior- especially at bedtime. So we are scaling back for a few days. For a few weekends. There have been too many BIG changes and EXCITING things going on lately and it feels like we've been running at full tilt... Hopefully I'll have a chance to blog regularly this week from work but no promises! Life is very hectic these days! School update: T visited today and loved it so we paid our registration fee and held her spot! Also... still have 1 spot left for a FABU gift from me!! See the post below this one!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Want a Gift From Me?

Go check out Momza's blog. She's being crafty and is going to share her talents!! The deal is that I am supposed to follow these rules: This offer does have some restrictions and limitations: 1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make! 2. What I create will be just for you. 3. It'll be done this next month. 4. You have no clue what it's going to be. It may be a story. It may be poetry or something sewn. I may draw or paint something. I may bake something and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure! 5.The catch? Oh, the catch is that you must re-post this on your blog and offer the same to the first 3 people who do the same on your blog. The first 3 people to do so and leave a comment telling me they did win a FAB-U-LOUS homemade gift by me! I do promise fabulosity here folks... And here's MY deal. I work full time and have 2 small kids so I make no guarantees of fabulousness. I will make an effort to come up with something crafty or homemade. But you just might end up with something that is a favorite of mine that I think you will enjoy. And to up the excitement... I'm going to grant my giftiness to the first 5 people (Specifically- 4 US/Canada and 1 International) who comment and do their own version of this fun-ness. Ready? Set? GO!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A New Addition (or 2)

Not going to try and make you think I'm cooking anything in my oven this time- no worries!!
I have a couple of new pets. They are my at-work companions. Fish!
I have a cute little mini-aquarium and it came with some fake greenery and some colorful pebbles. And I have 2 little fish who live there. A blue one and a red one. And stripey!
I have no clue what to name them. I need your help... any good ideas? You guys know me pretty well, right? So I need some cute "duo" names.
Here's a pic to help you out...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I, Palindrome, I

Figured that would be appropriate as a title for post #303.
Other great palindromes include...
Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, the longest palindrome is...
The Finnish word saippuakivikauppias (soap-stone vendor) is claimed to be the world's longest palindromic word in everyday use. A meaningful derivative from it is saippuakalasalakauppias (soapfish bootlegger). An even longer effort is saippuakuppinippukauppias (soapdish batch seller). Koortsmeetsysteemstrook (fever measuring system strip) is probably the longest palindrome in Dutch.
Palindromes can come in sentence format as well. For example:
Was it a car or a cat I saw?
And if I wasn't at work, I would find a video of They Might Be Giants and the song that I've titled this post after... perhaps I'll look for it from home this evening and add it.
Be clear... palindromes have nothing to do with the woman who ran for VP of the USA last year.

Somethin's Gotta Give

It's time for a change. I've been working out since last summer and I can feel a lot of changes but I'm itching for more. I want those summertime Sesame Place pics to look better than last year's pics. I want to feel less flab in my gut. I want to be able to enjoy the surprising flexibility that I have that is only hindered by the flab around my gut. I've posted before about loving my belly. And I do. It's where I grew my babies! That will always make my belly special to me. And I know and accept that I will always have a belly. But a bit less of this belly would be absolutely fine! My gym is supposed to start a "lunch hour boot camp" soon. Christy and I participated in one when we first joined the gym and very much saw and enjoyed the results. My endurance is higher now and I know my body and its abilities better. So I'm eager to see what more I can do with this "boot camp." I think I should do a before and after pic this time. Start with a certain outfit and then get a pic in the same outfit after the 8 weeks to see how things have changed. Maybe even take measurements this time around? I don't want to get caught up in numbers or appearance. This has always been about ability, energy, endurance. And it still is. It's about pushing myself and doing more, doing better. Having more energy for my kids, my husband, our schedules. So I guess this is yet another new(ish) venture that I will be sharing with my little corner of the blogosphere. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A New Venture

We will soon have a new project underway that we will share with all of our bloggy friends and readers. It will take some time to grow and develop and we will do our best to capture each milestone, each moment. It's something we've never imagined we would do or have. We assumed we were happy with things the way they are. But this new venture is surprisingly exciting. It will take patience, hard work, attention, and more patience. We may exhaust ourselves while we wait for the end result. For the first time in our history, Jeff and I (and Teagan and Zach) are adding to our family, to our home, in a way we hadn't planned. A vegetable garden. I do not have a green thumb. I tend to kill anything that grows in dirt. I'm great with people and animals. But plants... I'm cursed. When I got my first apartment, my grandma gave me a plant that she swore I wouldn't be able to kill. She'd had it and off shoots of it for decades. It had survived moves and various climates and been forgotten and overly remembered. But it thrived. Until it reached my hands and I managed to let it get infested with spider mites or something. Niiiiice. So we don't have plants or flowers, really. A nice lilac bush that I planted and that has been coming back each year. A rose bush that came with the house and flowers twice a year. I bought 2 new rose bushes to plant out front this year. And even some seeds to plant in the next few weeks. Columbine and something else. We'll see what happens. But Jeff has a plan to create a raised bed in the backyard. And we've purchased seeds and the things need to start the seeds. Jeff is talking to a farming friend and reading up on how to start seeds and create a garden. If all goes well, we will have carrots, cucumbers, onion, peppers. My mom has already started tomato plants for Teagan that will get planted up here. We practically have our own salad! Or it all fails miserably and we learn a lesson to stick with grocery stores and farmer's markets. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Say Cheese!

I have a couple of friends who are very opposed to having their picture taken. I used to hate having my picture taken. It was, for me, nothing more than an opportunity for me to berate my appearance, make excuses for how I looked, and degrade myself. Then I figured out that I'm pretty damn awesome. And that I look exactly the way I am supposed to look. And that the people who look at me every day, choose to do so. Then I had my first baby and my life changed. Not only did I start to feel acceptance about how I look to others, I began to realize that I'm beautiful. Because my daughter has my nose... my cheeks... my whatever... and to disparage my own appearance means I am also tearing her down. And my heart wants nothing more than to build her up. What message would I be sending her if she sees me looking in the mirror, criticizing how I look and then we go out and someone tells her she looks just like me... somewhere in her head, she's going to connect those 2 ideas. This is all stuff I've spewed out before. But I want to connect it to this idea of having your picture taken. I have a poor memory. Really poor. So by taking way too many pictures, I get to preserve all these little moments in the hopes that these pictures will spark memories for me. So to my friends... let your picture be taken. Don't worry about your makeup, your hair, your face, your clothes. The important thing is capturing the memory, capturing the moment, holding on to this little second of the feeling, the happening. I don't take pictures to capture physical beauty. I take pictures to capture a glimpse. To hold on to the way you look at my kids, the way you laugh, the way you tell a story. It isn't about how you look. It's about who you are.

Monday, March 23, 2009


We have found it! The preschool search may be over. We are on the verge. Jeff and I have found a school we like- well, I LOVE IT!!! The plan had been to find a top 2-3 schools, take Teagan on visits, and then decide. But after visiting the little independent school and then Goddard... we've decided that we like this school best, we will take Teagan to visit this school, and that's that. We did not choose Goddard. We just didn't love it. Jeff just didn't really like it. It was too chaotic. I didn't like what the director had to say about her teachers. She kept referring to them as her "girls." She hires them directly out of college and they stay a couple of years and then move on to public school positions. It isn't until school starts in August that she knows that she has a full staff for the year. Huh? It was just a little odd. Also didn't like that she welcomed us in but immediately had us sit in her office for 20 minutes or more instead of taking us on a tour while talking about the program and then sitting us down to see if we had questions. Various adults walked by several times and it made me feel like word was spreading that "potentials" were in the house!! The first school we visited was the little independent school. Little Explorers. The drawback is that it is 10 to 15 minutes away from home and in the opposite direction that we travel for work. So choosing this school definitely means some inconvenience. But I'd already made up my mind that if it was The Right School, the drive would be worth it. Here's the bottom line. Tuition at this school isn't too much more than what we pay for daycare. It includes 2 snacks, breakfast, lunch. No fundraising, no parental requirements (but parents are welcome to be as involved as they wish). In addition, they hold regular evening and weekend events so that parents and siblings can see the classroom and be part of the child's experience. The pre-k teacher has 32 years of teaching experience and she is fantastic. We heard her class before she knew we were coming, we got to talk to her and the kids and see the room. There are class pets- a hamster, 4 hermit crabs, and... *gulp* a tarantula!! Apparently, Spidey is quite the people-spider, though. The director told us some amazing stuff about him that makes me feel kinda ok about it. The school is small and will stay small. Only 4 classrooms- one for 3 year olds, one for pre-k (4 year olds), one for kindergarten, and one for the child care portion. There is a little computer lab and the kids usually get on the computers about twice a week (T loves the idea of that, as do her techie parents). The price is right, the hours work, and the program just fits us!! HOORAY!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Montessori vs Goddard vs A Beka vs etc

The stress hitting me over this school situation is AWFUL. Sometimes I think that I must be taking this too seriously. No one ever warned me that this school decision was such a difficult one. To calm myself, I am going to therapize here on my blog and also organize myself- I've got folders on each school and take extensive notes during phone calls and jotting down post-visit notes.

Montessori is back on the table. I got a follow up call yesterday morning from one of the heads of the school. She was checking in to see if I had any questions after our visit the week prior. I hesitated... in my head, I'm thinking this school is already off the list so why bother... but decide to ask about the language regarding the parent visit and observation policy.

She was shocked! She had no idea it read that way and it certainly isn't how the school is run. She said they have parents almost daily who pop in at various times just to check on the kids. She assured me numerous times that I would be welcome at any time and that I was also welcome to make an appointment if I wanted to have a more formalized observation with input from the directresses or heads of the school.

We ended the call- and I am feeling like this Montessori school is back on the list. 20 minutes later, she called me back and sealed the deal. She immediately went to the other head of the school and brought this to her attention. Turns out, the Board of Directors of the school have just recently changed the language in the handbook and want it written to be clear that parents are welcome to come into the school at any time.

So not only did she calm my concerns, but she took immediate action to rectify the problem on her end and then followed up with me.

So it is definitely back on the list.

We visited 2 other schools yesterday- just dropped in and asked for info. At both schools, we got a tour and lots of info about the program.

One is a church ministry program that uses the A Beka curriculum. I had no clue what that meant so I did some research. I didn't like what I saw and was ready to drop them from the list. But this place is highly recommended by Miss Lisa and by 2 other parents that have gone through Miss Lisa. So I wanted to check it out, see it for myself.

From my reading, the issue with the A Beka curriculum is that it comes from a fundamentalist Christian publishing company (the fundamentalist part already scared me off) and there have been issues (and even a lawsuit) regarding the pertinent historic and scientific information that is excluded from or simply wrong in the information they print. I asked our guide about the controversy- not stating what it was- and she had no clue what I was talking about. So maybe that's a thing of the past. Or maybe it doesn't really apply to the materials used in a pre-K setting. Checked with a preschool teacher friend of mine... turns out that she was schooled with an A Beka curriculum and advises against it. Says it is too limited. I agree from what we saw when we toured.

It was very focused on reading, writing, and math. The rooms were very small, especially considering that the class could be as large as 16 kids. Very few playthings in the rooms and the focal point of each pre-K room were 2 work tables and child size chairs. I get the impression that the curriculum part of the day focuses a lot on sitting and writing or doing worksheets. Which I don't think suits my daughter very well. Pretty certain it is off the list.

Move on to the next place. It's part of a chain- La Petite Academy. We liked it. Didn't really see anything we didn't like but also didn't love it. It would be fine. But nothing to get super excited about. Curriculum seemed well rounded. My concern was that the teacher turnover was high. Most of the teachers, according to the information in the lobby, had been there a year. The school cook, however, has been there 18 years.

As far as chains go, we are also considering Goddard and Primrose. We need to visit them. And if they pass that first step, we add them to the list.

Oh- another one on my list is a privately owned, independent preschool that will be starting its full day program this fall. The focus at this place is learning through experience and play. Which lines up nicely with what I think Teagan needs. It's a little out of the way for the morning drive and pick up. But... if it is the best choice, then we make it work.

Coming soon... another big pre-K post that will compare out the top 3 choices.

A Winner! A Weiner! A Winner!

We have a winner of our caption contest!!!

"...and now, ladies and gentlemen, watch as I make this fishing pole levitate! Rise....RISE!"

CONGRATS to Isabella of A Look on the Random Side!

Isabella- drop me an e-mail at gentlemomlc (a) gmail and I will get a shiny new Target gift card out to you!!

Thanks to all who participated!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

AIG, Bonuses, and Contracts- Oh my!

I am not an expert on the economy, the crisis, recession or anything in or near that vein. I'm an armchair politician, I suppose. Hearing the news reports and jumping to conclusions based on the scant amount of information provided. Case in point- AIG and the $165 million in bonuses provided to employees after accepting $182 Billion in government bailout money. Apparently there is a contract that promises bonuses to these employees. Edward Liddy, who came out of retirement 6 months ago to head up AIG to work with the government (and is being paid $1 per year), has gone on record as saying he finds the bonuses to be "distasteful." I work in contracts. I negotiate deals. And I want to know who had the brilliant idea to give these guys bonuses that weren't based at all on company performance. I can't fathom a situation where I'd be able to swing such a thing on a contract. Even more interesting is that these bonuses are specifically for employees in the financial services team- the group that is failing the most these days. These contracts are giving bonuses to employees of a division that generates billions of dollars in losses. No matter the economic conditions and the bailout... this contract was signed in Dec 2007, before the crap fully hit the fan, before bailout money was provided. But when the company was already in trouble. The contract is, specifically, an "employee retention" contract. The intent is to provide incentive for employees to remain with the company for 2008 and 2009 while facing a bleak future. And the contract guarantees big bonuses for failure. The bonuses are as small as $1,000. And seven people received bonuses larger than $3 million. The highest bonus was $6.5 million. For failing. For continuing to fail at a failing company. Edward Liddy has asked those who received bonuses over $100,000 to return half or more of their bonuses and several employees have already offered to return 100% of the money. I heard a news report this morning that Congress is considering a special taxation on bonuses paid out of bailout funds. 90% Can you imagine? Heck- might as well just offer the money back to the company, refuse acceptance of the bonus! Although... retaining 10% of a $6 million bonus would be $600K and I could sure do a lot to make my family comfy with that kind of money. Pay off our house and totally pad retirement and college funds. But I'm betting the person receiving that $6mil would think that $600K is a drop in the bucket. Side note- I'm reading that Liddy and his family and many of his employees have been receiving death threats. And that there is major security in place in the Manhattan office. That is pathetic and sad and crass and... just stop it! Of course, if we were in China, the people being "shamed" by these contracts and bonuses being unveiled would commit suicide under government pressure. So I guess some death threats aren't as bad a deal.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Finding Their Own Way

There is a reason why it is so important to let dads find their own way in parenting. As a mom, I know that I have to work hard to fight the urge to intervene when he is doing something differently from the way I do it. I really try to only interfere if something is really off- in my opinion. Jeff may disagree- he may feel henpecked and nagged when it comes to parenting. I hope not. Because he's an awesome dad. And he's awesome beyond the playing and silliness and smarts. Last evening, we all spent time playing outside. Teagan and I went for a short bike ride. Zach and Jeff played in our yard. Zach eventually hit the tired wall and was Done. He and I go in for his bath and bedtime. Teagan gets to stay outside with Daddy with the understanding that she stays within the set safety perimeter- neighbor's driveways and our sidewalk. Jeff is working on re-screening our window screens while she plays. He's got one done and is working on a second. I sit down after putting Zach to bed and am enjoying watching Teagan play in our front yard when I hear Jeff's voice... "Teagan!" Not a happy or excited tone. I hear him calmly ask if she "did this?" She's frozen in the front yard, body pulled into itself, cheeks flushing a light red. Mommy fought the urge to rush outside and pick up my baby girl. I know that feeling. That tingling and numbness that comes over your body when you are "busted." The embarrassment and shame at having disappointed someone that you love. He tells her that it is time for her to go inside. I can hear by his voice that this is Serious. She goes to clean up her sidewalk chalk. I go out front to bring her inside. That first window screen that Jeff had just finished... the entire screen, frame and all, is mangled and bent up. Most likely ruined. He is Pissed Off. But he is keeping it within his realm and not getting angry at her. She and I go inside. He comes in shortly after with the other finished screen. Teagan is still somber and sad. Won't talk to me about what happened. Refuses to say a word but communicates through gestures that she is sad about Daddy and the screen. We all gather in the living room and I encourage Teagan and Jeff to talk about what happened. Teagan climbs up on Jeff's lap. J: "Was it an accident?" T: "No." "You did it on purpose?" "No." "Tell me what happened." "I wanted to turn the music on and I fell and broke the screen." Now this is exactly where I would have gotten fixated on the fact that she broke the screen and been focused on the irresponsibility and that my work had been destroyed and so on. But Jeff is a Good Dad. A Great Dad. And he set her- and me- up for an important lesson. "Teagan, you could have gotten hurt reaching for that radio. There are lots of things you can do by yourself but there are still some things you need help with. And when you fell into the screen, you should have come to Daddy and let me know right away what happened. You could have gotten hurt. Leaving the broken screen sitting out could have hurt someone, too. When things happen, it is really important that you tell Daddy so I can help and make sure things are safe. OK?" Holy load of enlightenment, Daddy-man!! He didn't get mad about the broken screen AT ALL. He focused on the important part... on the lesson... on the underlying message. He totally got it and calmly and lovingly passed it on to her. He claims to be selfish... but last night proved otherwise a thousand times over. He never once said "I worked really hard to fix that screen and you broke it and now I'm angry." She knew she screwed up and she knew why. The bad thing that had been done wasn't the focus because she already knew what was wrong. I can see this lesson applying sometime in the future. Because he totally set the stage to make it safe to tell Daddy when Important Things happen. Daddy just proved that he won't fly off the handle or lose his temper. He will listen and understand and be there to help her fix it. He is my husband. He is Zach and Teagan's Dad. He is amazing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Great Preschool Search

Sorry to inundate with preschool and Teagan and kid stuff. But it is my focus these days so that is what you get! I might be crossing the Montessori school we visited off the list. In fact, I *gulp* am crossing it off. I went online and read the Parent Handbook. And read this... "Parents—as well as other interested family members and care givers—are encouraged to view their child’s classroom any time during the year after the first four weeks of attendance. You must make an appointment in advance. This has become more important than ever, as increased enrollment and tours throughout the year mean that often other parents or prospective parents are scheduled to observe during the day." Italics and bold are theirs, not mine. Huge red flag. Every other school- Montessori and church and otherwise- has been very "open door" about visits and observation. And that makes me feel immediately more comfortable. This breaks my heart. Because I would really love for my daughter, for my kids, to have a Montessori education. But it doesn't seem to be plausible between this red flag and the schedule limitations of other school options. So back to square one. If I follow my gut, there is a preschool/pre-K/Kindergarten program through a local Wesleyan church. Excellent hours, provided meals, affordable, etc. It's one of the first places I called and have yet to hear anything about it that's left me uncomfortable. Time to plan a visit. Sooner rather than later, given this recent development. RAWR!!!

The Birthday Celebration

Our birthday celebration weekend started on Saturday. We planned a Family Fun Day- dance class, Children's Museum, and then I made a family favorite dinner (tilapia- go figure).
Dance class was special because Teagan got to wear the Birthday Tutu! She's been looking forward to that for a couple of weeks now. What we don't have pictures of (thankfully) is when Miss Katie invited the parents in to dance the Irish Jig with the girls! Jeff had taken Zach to the car for a nap so there aren't any witnesses, either.
Next we headed to the Children's Museum- first stop, a ride on the Carousel!
Then we enjoyed some lunch (Teagan hardly stopped eating- cottage cheese, grapes, smilie potatoes, some hot dog, mac n cheese). Spent most of the afternoon in Playscape- a play area designed for kids under age 5. it has a really cool water table, sand table, train area, play house, and so on.
Sunday morning Teagan woke up to her brand new Big Girl bike. As soon as there was some sunlight, she and I headed outside to break it in. There was a learning curve to figure out the pedaling but she is already doing awesome on it!
Of course, Zach wanted a turn sitting on the bike, too.
Teagan and I headed to church (she took great joy in telling everyone that it was her very last day of being 3) and then to the store to pick out her cake. She had a choice- we could go home and make a cake together or she could pick one out at the store. She picked a cupcake cake that had a mix of chocolate and white cupcakes and was decorated with balloons.
She picked McDonald's for lunch. We took food home, ate. And then spent the entire afternoon outside. My mom and brother (Daniel) came in from Ohio, Christy came over, Brian came over. We ended up having a little outdoor party!
The big birthday dinner was at Teagan's favorite restaurant- Texas Roadhouse. Attending were me, Jeff, Zach, Teagan, Grandma, Uncle Daniel, Mimi and Pop-pop, Aunt Lindsey, Uncle Travis, cousins Corbin and Jillian, Christy and Brian. Teagan loves Texas Roadhouse because they make a big deal about birthdays- she chose it as her birthday restaurant last year, too. The staff gathers at your table, tips the table lamps toward you, announce your birthday and ask everyone to give a big "YEEHAW" as you sit, center stage, on a saddle.
For Teagan's actual birthDAY, she had her party at Lisa's house and got to pick dinner and go out for ice cream. Home for some bike riding. I also told her little pieces of her birth story- that when I woke up that day, I knew that Teagan was coming; that when she was first born, her little hand shot up in the air and held tight to my finger and then the nurses and doctors cleaned her up (NICU team, meconium in my water) and then handed her to Daddy and Daddy brought her to me and I held her and nursed her and sang to her. She loved hearing that stuff!
Last year, the big deal with turning 3 was that Teagan stopped using a sippy cup at Miss Lisa's house. This year, the big deal change with turning 4 is a new bedtime routine. Both kids used to go to bed at pretty much the same time. Now, Zach gets put to bed and Teagan gets 20-30 minutes of time to either play alone in her room, play with Mommy or Daddy, or some other quiet activity. Staying up later than baby brother- priceless!
P.S. Don't forget that $10 Target gift card giveaway in the entry below this one! Enter as many times as you'd like!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Caption Contest!!

Wanna win a $10 gift card to Target?
Caption this photo!
Deadline is Mar 19, midnight. Winner will be chosen Mar 20. I will just choose my fave, to be honest. Feel free to enter as many times as you'd like!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who knew?

Who knew that the hardest part of learning to ride a bike isn't the balance but the pedaling and braking? I never stopped to think about the coordination involved in cycling your legs forward. Watching Teagan try to master pedaling her new bike this morning, I saw that she would try to move her legs up and down instead of forward. This would then cause the pedal brake to engage. Teagan kept her cool and kept trying and it got better and better. But it was something I hadn't anticipated. *** Who knew that the dream of a weekend or night away from the kids could get so big? Jeff and I are both on the verge and needing a serious break. I don't want a week away in Mexico or anything... just an overnight in a hotel somewhere. Maybe even get fancy and order room service. Or not. Until we can schedule an overnight, I guess I'll have to settle for finding a way to pamper myself. Which means I might break down and finally get a pedicure again. I haven't had one since I was pregnant with Zach! My feet desperately need some attention and softness and color. *** Who knew that an almost 17 month old could have such insane mood swings? Oh wait. I did know that. I live it every day! *** Who knew that one of the most joyous sounds is a child getting joke? We're watching a cartoon and a character fell in the mud and Teagan, without any prompting from us, started instantly cracking up laughing. It's fun to see her develop and gain a sense of humor and comprehension. It's another level of individuality- her sense of humor. *** Who knew that putting chunks of fruit on a stick made it more appealing? My kids can't get enough of it! Granted, they will eat fruit without hesitation anyway. But putting strawberries, melon, pineapple, and grapes on a stick is fun! Daddy finds it less fun as he's the one pulling the fruit off the stick for each child. *** Who knew?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Shouldn't Be Allowed To Choose!

Teagan loves the Children's Museum. It's one of her absolute favorite places to go. So we thought it would be great to spend part of our Saturday down there. Sure, it was insanely crowded last time- but that's because Batman was making appearances. It certainly couldn't be as crowded on a random Saturday in March, could it? Yeah. It could. It was packed. And then some. The worst crowds were in the cafeteria this time. We really manged through all of it with minimal damage. But I'm starting to really doubt my ability to make plans for the family. My luck isn't good. Jeff and I both get stressed in crowd situations. We did have fun- rode the carousel, ate lunch (Teagan ate like she hadn't been fed in a week), played in Playscape (the under 5 area) for a long time- water table, sand area, climbing area, etc. Participated in a small little singalong thing and Teagan decided it was time to go home. Next up will be dinner and a quiet evening at home, watching a movie. But I'm done planning. Because there is some weird current out there so that the mommy universe somehow knows what it is I'm choosing and all of Indy and tourists show up there, too!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Montessori School Visit

Our visit to the potential school went really, really well. It truly was a night for existing parents and only a few of the families attending were prospective parents. If you are unfamiliar with Montessori, you can read some of the information for parents provided on the Montessori.org site. I did have a moment of panic, feeling overwhelmed, anxious. I'd been handling it all really well. And I can't even tell you what it was the directress said that made me all fluttery. It had nothing to do with the school or the program... it was just this big reality of my baby being part of this kind of program. Concern over how she will transition into it... how she will take to it, if she will like it. So the next steps appear to be to come in for a daytime tour and classroom observation (there are mirrored windows so adults can see into the rooms without disrupting the activities). And then Teagan gets to come in and meet the directresses, see the school, and we'd see if she's a good fit. *** The Montessori classroom has 4 areas. Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, and Mathematics. Also incorporated is Geography/Cultural Subjects. Practical Life encourages care of self and environment. In this area, kids learn to fill water glasses, clean tables, fold laundry, and other tasks that they see performed at home. A recommendation for incorporating this into the home environment is making certain that objects a child needs to take care of their own tasks are at their level- such as dishes, cups, silverware, snacks. Sensorial focuses on the child's 5 senses and encourage control of movement. One demonstration showed to us by another parent was a cube with a variety of sizes and colors of blocks inside it. The picture on top indicated how the cube should look when complete. The child then fills in the cube with the blocks- there isn't one specific way the blocks fit so the child has a lot of options to make the top of the cube look like the picture. This also, apparently, teaches algebraic thinking. The Language Area focuses on the spoken and written word. Montessori children are taught cursive instead of printing as it is natural for a child to want to draw curved shapes. The alphabet is taught phonetically. Children are also encouraged to use proper names for things, instead of nicknames or made up words. Mathematics first teaches 1 through 10 and the concept of zero and then moves into the base 10 system. From there, children learn addition, subtraction, and then multiplication and sometimes they even learn division. We saw work stations that teach fractions, addition facts, and so on. The Geography and Cultural Subjects include map puzzles of different continents and their countries, globes, flash cards with information about various cultures. The main purpose is to expose the child to different cultures. *** Jeff and I were both impressed with the cultural diversity in the small group of parents present. A German grandmother and mother, an Asian dad, a British dad, an Indian mom. *** Another important element of the Montessori classroom is that it is a mixed age environment. Teagan's class would be ages 3-5. She is good at being in a leadership or mentor role as she is the oldest in her current daycare situation. She needs more exposure to older children as peers. *** My mind isn't made up. I want to visit a "regular" preschool. There is one near our house that our daycare provider recommends. Just because I have a deep respect for Montessori doesn't mean it is exactly right for Teagan... but I'm pretty sure it is. *** Oh! The other thing that was exciting, for me, was hearing a lot of the same language that I use when I talk about parenting. Personal responsibility, self-sufficiency, choice. Main tenets of the Montessori philosophy. *** So the visit was a good one. On the way home, we stopped and picked up Teagan's bike for her big birthday present. Just have to get her a helmet and she's good to go. Also got her a basket for the front of the bike- every girl needs a basket on her first bike! Someday I'll share the story of me and learning to ride and having my first bike (a yellow hand me down that I adored) when I was 8 or 9 years old, I think. This morning, after being awake about an hour, Teagan suddenly began complaining that her ear hurt and is having trouble turning her head to the right. I think it may be a pinched nerve. Jeff is taking her to the doctor this morning... hopefully she won't be miserable all weekend- that is not a fun way to celebrate your birthday! I will say that her dealing with this new pain sensation, while pathetic and miserable, has been adorable, too. She is very worried that "something is wrong with my bones! I don't want my bones to be bad!" And in the midst of some of the whimpering and holding, a confession came out... while with Pop-Pop last night, she ate a lot of candy! And now it's hurting her ear! Poor thing, feeling guilty for it... and bad parents, we didn't correct her! We didn't agree with her, either, so maybe there is some redemption for us? And I'm still slammed at work but couldn't neglect my bloggy buddies another day... but now really must get my nose back to this grindstone over here. Ouch! UPDATE: Teagan has an ear infection, as does Jeff. Both are on Augmentin. Fun. Teagan seemed to be feeling much ebtter and wasn't in tears over the pain so Tylenol must be helping.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What a Crazy Day!

I can't believe that I've hardly had a minute to spare for my beloved blogosphere!! I had a meeting almost immediately upon arrival this morning. Then a brief respite and right into an hour long training session. Urgent stuff was coming up and my phone and e-mail have been blowing up all day. It's just been non-stop in my office today!! And Jeff has made arrangements for his dad to come and stay with the kids this evening because Jeff wants to come visit this preschool with me. That made my heart sing!! He pretty much left all daycare decisions up to me... and I wanted him more involved. Look where we are now! With no prompting from me, he's made this evening's visit a priority!! Hope everyone is having a good day and I hope to have some time to blog tomorrow... before the big birthday weekend!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Last Wednesday

Today is the last Wednesday that my baby will be 3. Tomorrow, her last Thursday as a 3 year old. Then her last Friday... her last Saturday... Sunday is her last day of being 3. Ever. I can't believe it. And to add to the growing excitement, adding to all of the changes that are coming with the advent of FOUR... I'm going to preschool tomorrow! I've been dragging my feet when it comes to looking at preschools. I know it is time. Miss Lisa has been awesome for Teagan but she needs more. She's the only girl, she's the oldest child. It's time to move to the next phase. In my college past, I started as an elementary education major. I studied Montessori a little, did some volunteer work in an inner city Montessori school. I can't say that I'm passionate about Montessori but I am very in favor of the process. And I think it is a really great fit for Teagan and the way she learns and observes. So I've gathered recommendations for Montessori schools. The downside is that most Montessori schools don't offer the extensive before-and-after care that we need since Jeff and I both work full time. And then I happened upon a Montessori school that is close to home, offers the hours we need, has a very comprehensive website, gorgeous campus, etc. I was reading Morninglight Mama's blog today and it inspired me to swallow and breath deeply and make the call. I chat with the woman who answered the phone. She is going to send a packet, etc. Very nice, very sweet. She asks if I want to come in for a tour. Absolutely! Even better... are you free tomorrow night? I can make myself free. It's a "parent experience" night. Where current parents and some potential new parents can come in, talk with the directresses, meet the teachers, and participate in hands on demonstrations of the classroom stations. Which means- play with the toys! Wahoo! So tomorrow evening, Jeff will be home with the kiddos. I will venture out to the first major step of our baby becoming a girl. And play with toys.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


My friend Lisa has graced me with a blog award!! I love these things!! It seriously lifts my spirits, makes my day when someone thinks of me with one of these "awards." I got a little confused because there are 2 different graphics to display. So I am going to totally shake things up and expand on the second one... make it my own and then spread the love... OK? First... The rules: 1) Admit that ONE thing you feel awful about involving being a mom. Get it off your shoulders. Once you've written it down, you are NO LONGER allowed to feel bad. It's over with, it's in the past. Remember, you're a good mom! I have a shorter fuse than I'd like to admit. I'm working on it constantly. As long as I'm in the right mindframe, it's all good and I don't yell or snap. But sometimes, it just seems to be unstoppable. It's totally my choice to act on that irritation or anger. But when I look back on the situation, I just feel guilty. 2) To remind yourself that you ARE a good mom, list SEVEN things you love about your kids, you love doing with your kids, or that your kids love about you. These are the things to remind yourself of EVERY DAY that you rock! 1. I'm mostly a fun mom. I come up with ideas of fun and interesting things to do. 2. I make good food and keep our house well stocked with snacks- even healthy ones! 3. I can't possibly start listing the things I love about each of my kids. Because the list is never ending. But the main thing is that having children has introduced me to a new level of love- one that I never knew existed until I held my firstborn's tiny little hand just a moment after she was born. 4. A really cool thing about having kids is getting to do kid things. Sesame Place, Children's Museum, the Zoo... heck, even watching cartoons and coloring and invading the children's section of the library! 5. I love little tiny clothes. I love Teagan's dresses and shoes and jeans and t-shirts. I love Zach's overalls and socks and onesies. Little kid clothing is just adorable. 6. My marriage has changed. I guess for some people, having kids changes a marriage in a bad way. Because maybe those couples forget to take care of each other. But I feel like having kids has really added an awesome dimension to our marriage. And that we are often stronger for it. 7. One more thing I love about my kids... all of their little body parts. Sparkling eyes, small little hands, ticklish thighs, baby toes, strong little legs, downy soft hair, the soft nape of the neck, arms that hug. I am passing on the Mom of the Year Award to: ArtsyMom Half Past Kissin' Time The Jason Show Shrinking Yoda Fourth Frog The Mom Experience C. Beth Blog Ca-Joh Andrew Scott Turner Everyday Alice (A few of the above aren't "moms" but they are awesome dads so that counts, right?) Second... The Sisterhood Award. I went and looked online to see what other recipients of the Sisterhood Award of said and what the rules are... but they sucked, frankly. Totally boring. Just list 10 bloggers you follow... blah. I even went and found the blog of the blogger who created the award- Diana Rambles. Luckily, I've seen the movie (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) so I get the inspiration and intent. So I'm totally revamping it and starting fresh!

First, share memories or thoughts of childhood or adulthood sister-friends. Funny, sad, whatever.

1. My daily drives to and from work with Christy. We enjoy spending time at my house, going out to dinner, at the gym, hanging out with theatre friends. But some of the best laughs come on the drive home from work. We can get absolutely hysterical at ourselves. We should do a podcast or something.

2. College. Jim. "Ooooh! I forgot my baaag!" Not funny to anyone but me and him, but still.

3. My wedding. Jim and Christy were there. 2 people who have proven friendship to me countless times in a variety of ways.

4. Sitting in a backyard in CT, watching Teagan play with a little friend who was born just 3 days before her. Her mom and I are thrilled to have this visiting time together- a rare occurence for people who live states apart. I'm getting to meet the man she's going to marry, she's getting to meet my son. We are "internet" friends. We met online and real and powerful friendship grew.

Second, pass the award on to however many bloggers you'd like to share this with- but make sure you share this award specifically with bloggers that you feel a kinship with. Bloggers you learn from or feel that you teach, bloggers you've connected with in a really familiar and friendly way.

Adopting M.E.


Joanie's Random Ramblings

Mim's Muddle

My 2 Sense

Bitchin' Wives Club

5th Time's the Charm

Lilly's Life

RVing (for Garret- whenever he gets back)

Desperately Needing Some Good News

And I've got some! You might remember my desperate plea last month for a family vacation this summer?

I think it is going to happen! I took a portion of our tax refund and, with Jeff's agreement, opened a vacation account at the bank. So, provided there isn't a major issue between now and July... we should be heading to LANGHORNE PA for a big old FAMILY VACAY this summer! WAHOO!

Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away!

On my way to where the air is sweet!

Can you tell me how to get...

How to get to Sesame Street?

Tips for Helping a Loved One During Illness

Put on your cape and pretend like you are a superhero. That about covers it. Still not clear? Keep the kids happy. Fighting makes Mommy feel guilty for being locked in the bathroom. Straighten up toys. Tripping over the toys once Mommy can emerge from the back of the house- not good. Seeing the mess and feeling the urge to immediately pick them up- not good. Do dishes. Smelly, dirty dishes in the sink is not good for a Mommy who has spent 12 hours having nothing but nastiness coming out of her orifices. Do laundry. When sickness takes over a household, everything has to be washed. Period. Tend to your spouse. Just check in from time to time. Offer to bring a drink, make soup. Don't make them ask. Try to spoil your spouse a little- so they feel loved and taken care of. OK. Forget the superhero cape. Just pretend you're MOM for about 24 hours and all should be fine.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What Goes Around...

Boy was sick Friday night and Saturday. Girl was sick Saturday evening and Sunday and is being cared for today by Jeff's mom (our Mimi). Just a fever and she seems to be on the upswing. I spent yesterday running errands and cleaned out part of the garage. And then the plague hit me. Hard. So Zach is at daycare, Teagan is with her Mimi, and I am home sick. Last night was hell. When it hit, I literally spent about 2 solid hours in the bathroom. Hopefully back to normal tomorrow...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Update- Our Saturday

First off, I need to explain Friday. It wasn't a good day to start with. I don't even remember all of it. But the highlights were when I forgot to make sure the bathroom faucet was over the sink and ended up with water running all over the counter and floor. Rushing out the door and realizing I forgot to grab clean gym clothes- rush back inside and can't find clean underwear anywhere. And then getting to work and trying to turn on my PC by pushing the logo button instead of the power button. Going to lunch at a special place that is reserved for bad days or celebrations and is normally REALLY good Thai food... and it was hugely disappointing.
It was just an off day.
Jeff is getting ready to leave and calls to tell me that there is a "weird smell" in the house by the front door and he couldn't figure out what it was.
So I'm facing the weekend without him and also have to deal with the mystery smell. Great.
So Christy took me up on my invite to help me sniff out the odor. We couldn't find a source for it (it does seem to be gone completely this evening).
But she is an absolute godsend. Seriously. Talk about a best friend...
Zach made some upset noises around 8:15 and, being the doting mommy that I am, I went to check on him. Thank heavens for instinct. That's when I found the pools of vomit in his crib. Pick him up and get it all over me as it is in his hair, on his pj's, on his hands, his face. I let Christy know what is going on and head to the bathroom with him. Next thing I know... she's stripped the crib. Unreal. I can barely handle my own kid's vomit and she's jumping right in and dealing with the task I was most gearing myself up to confront. She got Teagan back to bed for me, too. Then stuck around until 10, and about 3 more bouts of Zach vomit (this time camped out in the living room and caught in a basin). Once she felt we were going to be ok for the night, she headed home. After offering to stay if I thought I needed her. That about made me cry.
Then she came this morning and took Teagan to dance class and then to the library. Even though she had places she needed to be.
Jeff, my kids, and I owe her. Majorly. She is the kind of friend that is hard to come by and that you hold on to because she is more than worth it.
A good friend holds your hair when you vomit. A great friend helps clean up your vomit. A best friend helps clean up your kids' vomit.
So by the time they get home and Christy leaves again (and even offers to drop off the due-today tuition to finish off the year for dance class), I start making lunch for T. Zach has kept down water and about half a container of applesauce, slept most of the time Teagan was gone, and seems to be doing much better. The kids play outside while I make mac-n-cheese with tuna for me and Teagan (plain pasta for Zach). Until he started stealing Teagan's lunch. Apparently, he was feeling better! And it stayed down! 2 nasty diapers later... he seems a-ok.
He takes a great afternoon nap and Teagan and I just hang out, watch a movie (Horton Hears A Who- which made me cry). When Zach wakes up, we go for a walk. He's in the stroller, T's on her trike, even Sassy joined in the fun. Sat out front, visited with a neighbor, played. Came inside... Teagan's burning up. Check her temp- 100.7.
Insert big sigh...
So I give her some Tylenol and she crashes out on the couch.
She sleeps almost 2 hours, skips dinner. Zach ate some chicken and carrots from my chicken pot pie. Evening is going well.
When she wakes, the meds are doing well and she's feeling normal.
We Skype goodnight with Daddy. Zach goes right to bed- and I'm optimistic that the vomit is behind us. T stayed up a bit longer, had some jello (that will be pretty if she wakes up vomiting tonight, eh?), watched some calming PBS Sprout night shows... and went to bed and sleep without issue. And the fever was creeping back so... more tylenol.
And now I'm sitting. In the midst of all that, I did laundry and dishes, too. Even got a shower. It's all a blur.
I appreciate the well wishes and warm thoughts today!! Jeff is on his way home. Hopefully we get everyone healthy by morning and can enjoy our weekend a little tomorrow!!

Day 27: Love encourages

Daily Reading

"You must choose to live by encouragement rather than by expectations."

"Love puts the focus on personal responsibility and improving yourself rather than on demanding more from others."

How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Matthew 7:4-5

In stead of nitpicking and trying to change your partner, instead of focusing on what is wrong with them, Love encourages the other. Choose to find ways to lift up your spouse instead of tearing them down. Be a positive and supporting partner as your spouse seeks to find their true self, their best self. And by doing it together, through positive encouragement, you both become your best selves, your best couple.

Today's Dare

"Eliminate the poison of unrealistic expectations in your home. Think of one area where your spouse has told you that you are expecting too much, and tell them you're sorry for being so hard on them about it. Promise them you'll seek to understand, and assure them of your unconditional love."


"When you place high expectations on your spouse that they don't feel internally motivated to attain, what does that tell you about yourself? What are some better ways to deal with these disconnects?"

This one hits home for me and is something I struggle with. On one specific issue. And it's a hard one for me to let go because I feel like I already put a great amount of effort into letting it go and giving him his own time and timeline to figure it out.

Jeff's a packrat and a slob when it come to space. Our bedroom is a disaster area. Our dining room is taken over by stuff. Our garage is almost completely unusable. Our basement... which could be a nice family room... is a massive pile of stuff and garbage. It's unsafe.

Jeff knows it needs to be cleaned up. He knows that this way of living is not ok- especially now that we have kids. But he doesn't change.

Are my expectations too high? From the outside, most would say no.

But I know that there are deep issues for him when it come to his stuff. Deep. And he was like this- and worse- when we met. So I knew what I was getting into.

So this, to me, is exactly the kind of thing that I need to let go and let God, so to speak. And hope that someday, Jeff gets the message and chooses to show his own love by cleaning up our home so that we have more family space and less off-limits space.

So today, I'm going to release it. Take the mess off my shoulders. It's an ongoing thing for me but I need to let it go.


Any Skypers out there? Jeff just set us all up. He's out of town until tonight and wanted to see the kids this morning so he hooked it up. It's pretty awesome!! Teagan thought it was really neat to see Daddy and Uncle Briney (Brian) even though they are not near home right now. Cutest moment was when she blew him kisses and threw a big hug- and he caught them. Zach got in on it, too. Kept touching Daddy's nose on the screen. Or Jeff would reach his finger towards the camera and Zach would touch fingers with Daddy. I can totally see why people who Skype love it so much!


No big posts today. Just some random thoughts. Zach is sick. Jeff is out of town. Christy is the awesomest friend. Zach didn't want to eat his dinner. Which wasn't too out of the ordinary. Went to bed normally. Threw up, all over his crib, around 8:15. All over his hair, his pj's, everything. I got him into the tub. Christy, being part saint, got the pukey bedding out of the crib. And put fresh bedding on. So my night has continued in this pattern. This morning, after no fluid or solid intake in about 6hours, he had some water and a little applesauce. Threw it up. So we wait. Christy is going to pick up T and take her to dance class in a bit. Jeff is out of town- returning tonight. This sucks.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 26: Love is responsible

Daily Reading

Personal Responsibility.

"We are so quick to justify our motives. So quick to deflect criticism. So quick to find fault- especially with our spouse, who is always the easiest one to blame."

"As far as we're concerned, we're doing the best we can. And our spouse just ought to be glad we're as good to them as we are."

The thing that strikes me about that last sentence is how selfish it sounds- and we've already done the "love is not selfish" dare!

The book suggests listening when arguing. Instead of proving yourself right, listen to what your partner is saying.

We should be making deliberate efforts to care for the person we've chosen to love. Not seeking out ways for ourselves to be cared for.

"Pride is very resistant to responsibility, but humility and honesty before God and your spouse is crucial for a healthy relationship."

If you have wronged your spouse, you have to seek forgiveness. You can't force them to forgive you but you can choose to recognize your error and ask for healing.

"Admitting your mistakes is your responsibility."

Today's Dare

Pray for the things you've done wrong. Admit them to your spouse. Be sincere and truthful. Ask for forgiveness. They may respond negatively or with criticism. But maintain your choice to love and be personally responsible for the actions you've chosen.


"What does your mate need to see in order to believe that your confession was more than just words?"

An Interview with Teagan

This was a friend's idea- to interview your child and record the answers. I should have done a video interview- and I'm sure I will in the future. If anyone has any good follow up questions, I'll arrange a second interview with Teagan!
What's your favourite game to play? Hm... checkers!
Mom's note: She never plays checkers. I thought she'd say bowling or tennis- which she loves to play on the Wii- or Hullabaloo.
What's your favourite colour? Blue and pink
Mom's note: I thought pink would be first and then purple.
What's your favourite food? macaroni and cheese!
What's your favourite activity? I like to play a lot and lot with my baby brother
What makes mom happy? hugs and kisses and lots of hugs and lots of kisses. When I love you. That makes you happy.
Mom's note: Truer words have never been spoken...
What makes mom sad? When I hurt your feelings...
Mom's note: At least we know some of our messages are getting through logically, even if not always showing up in actions.
What is mom's favourite snack? granola bars
Mom's note: No clue where this came from as I rarely eat granola bars and we rarely even have them in the house! But I guess she doesn't really see me snacking much.
What is mom's favourite thing to do? be busy. doing what? cleaning up!
Mom's note: I hope my mom reads this!!! See- my kid sees me cleaning house and hears me nagging to get things cleaned up!!!
What do you think about Zach? I love him! I love him if he's awake or asleep!
What do you like to do with dad? I like to play with Daddy and have piggy back rides and play horsey.
Where should we go on a trip? Grandma's house. Or Sesame Street.
Mom's note: Jeff was there and he heard the answer... I think Sesame Place is in our summer plan!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In the Kitchen with...

JEFF! He made dinner for the family Tuesday night. He went to Costco for me on Sunday. Came home and announced that he'd purchased a cookbook and wanted to cook dinner for the family once a week or so. Excellent! Fine by me!! I enjoy cooking but prefer to be able to have prep time and not just the mad dash as soon as we walk in the door. So to have a night off of figuring out dinner is heaven-sent. He wouldn't tell me anything- not the name of the cookbook, not what he planned to make. He only called with a question once- and that was just to ask about where to find a certain bowl in our kitchen. I walk in the door and smell beef and onion... it smells really good. He made a Cheeseburger Bake. I prefer to call it "Jeff's Confetti Surprise." The bottom of the pan was a bread that he made from scratch. I don't know the ingredients but I know he had to mix it (hence the bowl question) and I know it had cheese in it and egg whites. Then there was ground beef that he divulged was mixed with cream of mushroom soup. There were mixed veggies- corn, carrots, peas, green beans. And topped with shredded cheddar. Very colorful, smelled great, looked yummy. I was eager to dive in! And it was GOOD. And the cute part? His concern over how it turned out, if I liked it, and so on. I've mentioned before that I'm emotionally connected to my cooking. I like to make food that my family enjoys. That it is more than just filling your belly. I want your palate to enjoy the meal as well. I want my family to be happy and satisfied and all that good stuff. And I think he got an inkling of that feeling when he cooked our dinner. Here's to a new era! I don't know that he'll share recipes over on his blog (it would be nice, though) but I will share his weekly kitchen adventures!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Top Ten Non-Medication Cold and Sinus Remedies

I've got a cold coming on. So I'm going to play Top Ten Tuesday with my top ten favorite ways to fight a cold or sinus infection! 1. Neti Pot. Looooove my neti pot. It took me some serious time to get over the heebie jeebie of it... I can't do nose sprays without gagging and crying. So I couldn't imagine pour water through my nostrils. But not only do I find that my neti pot really does help clear out my sinuses, I also find the warm water rather soothing. 2. Exercise. This is the hardest one to achieve. Right now, I feel crappy. I do NOT want to get up and march or crunch or push or whatever. But I know it will help in the long run! Still no guarantee I'll do it, though. 3. Hot Tea. Soothing, hot, steamy, comforting. 4. Wine. At the end of a day of fighting a cold and being in a more agitated state because of it, a glass of wine helps to soothe the ickies. 5. Massage. Nothing helps my sinuses and stress like a good neck, shoulder, and back massage. If I knew more about reflexology, I believe a good foot massage with pressure in the right points would also help. 6. Shower Steamers. Those vapo-tab-thingees that you put in the bottom of the shower and they release that soothing menthol mixed with the steam from the hot shower... aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! 7. TV. An evening of catching up on the DVR. Relaxing, laughing, not having to think. 8. Snacks. Ice cream, Doritos, comfort food. 9. Sleep. Going to bed early, maybe even getting a nap on a weekend. 10. Not getting sick in the first place. If there was a way to just not get sick in the first place, I'd be a happy Momma!!

Really, Really Cool Art

Check out this article... funny that it's a British article about a guy in Ohio... but either way, the concept is really amazing... Crayon Art

Mama Bear and Friendship

Teagan is at an age where she is starting to form relationships with other kids. She knows the names of the other girls in her dance class. But there isn't really any socializing time there- they show up and they dance and they go home. She knows the kids at church from her Sunday School class. And gets very excited too see them and say hello to them and play with them. There are about half a dozen kids there that she talks about on a regular basis. There are the kids at daycare- but she is the oldest so it isn't much of a peer group (hence the reason we are pursuing preschool this fall). So her main source of real social interaction with any consistency and with an opportunity to be somewhat unstructured is church. It's also the only place where I get to observe how she behaves around other kids. And it turns out that the Mama Bear that I thought had left the building after that first year or so... just hibernating. Mama Bear is alive and well and ready to attack. Thankfully, Mama Bear is still smart and observant and doesn't strike without true cause. There was a new little girl at church on Sunday and she and Teagan were in the same class, she sat near us during church, etc. And the girls really hit it off and Teagan took great pride in helping this girl and welcoming her. She sat with her during the children's sermon. She held her hand and showed her where their classroom was. She even asked me for an extra quarter so that this girl would have money to give during the offering in Sunday School. The girl sat with us before the children's sermon and they wrote their names and drew and colored hearts. They were becoming friends. After church, there was a pancake brunch. The girl and her father decided to stay and enjoy the lunch (the mom would come back and pick them up). Somehow, this new girl ended up attached to another girl- an older girl. And Teagan wanted to still hang out with them. And was forthright and confident in approaching them and asking to sit with them. So we've got my almost 4 year old, the new girl (who is on the young side of 5), and the older girl who is 7. And the 7 year old knows how things work. She sits between the new girl and Teagan. She talks and talks and talks and keeps her back to Teagan, focusing all of her attention on the new girl. I'm sitting across the table from these three, observing. And my Mama Bear is grumbling and starting to snarl. The older girl, prior to sitting to eat, ignored Teagan's attempts at hand holding. She turned away from Teagan's attempt to join in and play with them. Mama Bear's hackles went up. But Teagan took it in stride and hardly noticed. She went and found someone else who wanted to play and run and chase. She sat on the other side of the older girl and didn't notice that she was being shut out. She finished eating and ran off to play with a different group of kids- leaving Mama Bear to breath and calm down and take in the joy of running, skipping, hiding. Eventually, the older girl left. All the other kids had gone, too. Teagan asked to stay until her new friend's mom came- she didn't want her to be alone. So we stayed. And they played. They jumped and hopped. They twirled. They pretended to be kitty cats. They laughed and laughed and smiled and held hands and spun. And the lessons I learned overwhelmed me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Because GOOD NEWS Rules!

I'm all about paying it forward. When I've got some spare cash, I've been known to pay for the car behind me. And stories like this one really inspire me!! A "Pay It Forward" of coffee beverages started on Saturday morning at the Starbucks on John Deere Road in Moline. It all started when one person decided to pay for the car behind them the Starbucks drive-thru. The next driver also decided to "Pay it Forward" by paying for the drink of the person behind them, and so forth. The chain continued for more than 150 customers. "He [the Starbucks employee] explained to me that the woman paid for the drink behind her and its just been going on all day," said customer Amanda Burkert. Many customers said the gestures were a surprise to some in today's falling economy. Over 150 customers took part. Two months ago, a similar pay it forward chain started at a Starbucks in Des Moines, Iowa, but it lasted for only 53 customers. Here's hoping this inspires you!

What Daddies Do Best, Vol 3

Jeff might kill me for these next pictures. Seriously.
Teagan and Jeff have always had this history of taking these fantastic naps together. She often sleeps better just by having Daddy sleeping close by. If I fall asleep in Teagan's bed, she doesn't snuggle. If I hold her, she soon scoots away, wanting her own space. But if she falls asleep with Daddy... snuggle city. He gets the best end of the deal. And I get to take some great pictures.
So, honey... don't be embarassed that I'm showing these to the world. Because they are some of the sweetest pictures and they really show this special bond between the 2 of you. Some of the best moments in my mommyhood has been happening onto these sleeping moments, when I see, sometimes, just how alike the 2 of you are.
See- peas in a pod!
And to think it all started with naps on the couch...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day 25: Love forgives

After a break from the book, I'm ready to get back to it. Sorry for the pause but I needed some distance after those last few entries.

Daily Reading

You have to forgive for a marriage to work. And not just forgiveness within your marriage. But letting go of anything from your past that needs forgiving, too. Any hurts from your childhood, for example. You have to let those things go, forgive the people who have hurt you... so that you can be complete in your marriage.

And then you choose to let your anger go against your spouse. Anything you've been holding a grudge over. Anything you've clung to or tucked away... because living a life with hidden and pent up anger just means that it will come back to bite you later on.

Today's Dare

Whatever you've been holding on to, whatever grudge you've been carrying... let it go. Choose to forgive.


What did you forgive your spouse for? How long had you been carrying this anger? How do you feel after letting it go?